Demand that the Canadian Fisheries Minister stops overfishing
The Canadian government’s mismanagement of fisheries is leading to overfishing of wild fish populations – making it impossible to conserve and support the long-term health of the ocean. To address this threat, Oceana Canada and Only One are teaming up on a mission to stop overfishing in Canada and encourage Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Joyce Murray, to make an abundant, healthy ocean a priority for coastal fishing communities, food security, and our planet. Canada boasts the world’s longest coastline and manages a sprawling 2.76 million square kilometers of ocean in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic. Because of its critical proximity to ocean resources, Canada is also home to one of the world’s most significant fishing industries, catching more than 1.1 million metric tonnes of fish every year. Seafood is the single largest food export, and Canada consistently ranks in the top 25 fish-producing countries in the world.
Canada’s current approach to managing wild fish is defective and it’s devastating the ocean.
A half-decade of assessing the state of fish populations and how they are being managed in Oceana Canada’s annual Fishery Audit has shown that Canada is failing. Fewer than one-third of Canada’s fisheries are considered healthy and nearly 80 per cent of depleted fish populations don’t even have rebuilding plans to bring them back to healthy levels.
And the problem is much worse than the government admits.
The Canadian government claims there are 33 critically depleted stocks, which are fish populations that are in urgent need of conservation. New Oceana Canada research shows there could be as many as 58. These species, including ecologically important capelin, are being managed in the dark, without adequate information. Some invertebrate stocks, like snow crab and shrimp, are depleted and yet the government still considers them ‘uncertain.’
This is leading to overfishing that harms the ocean and coastal communities and fails to meet the full potential of our seafood industry. Snow crab is one of the most economically valuable species in Canada that was worth over half a billion dollars in 2020 and, according to Oceana Canada research, several snow crab stocks are depleted. If managed for its long-term health it could be worth much more for coastal communities.
We have a small window of opportunity to stop overfishing in Canada.
This October, a symposium in Ottawa will help inform the future management of Canada’s fisheries. This is our chance to demand that Fisheries Minister Murray commit to stop overfishing, rebuild all depleted fish populations and support a healthier ocean filled with life.
Canada has the tools and expertise to make a change, now we need the government to act.
This petition makes it clear to Minister Murray how to change Canada’s failing fisheries:
- List all fisheries under the Fisheries Act regulations. By implementing existing laws, the government will document and account for fisheries and rebuild those that are depleted.
- Require a status for species currently listed as ‘uncertain’ and use modern fisheries management informed by science and Indigenous Knowledge Systems. This should prioritize species that can have long-term benefits for the ecosystem, economy, and socio-cultural underpinnings of coastal communities.